ASPEN — Simon Dumont will watch the action in Sochi from his couch or, if he’s lucky, maybe from a broadcast booth above the halfpipe.
To say he didn’t have an Olympic moment, though, wouldn’t be quite right.
On a halfpipe in Park City, Utah, last weekend during the year’s final Olympic qualifier, Dumont dropped into the pipe and hurried through a run — not as difficult as what he usually does but strong and solid and washed in cheers.
He did it the day after tearing a ligament in his left knee, an injury that all but ended any thoughts of making the U.S. Olympic team.
And though he’s not officially retiring, he did it knowing it could very well be the last time he performs on a halfpipe in front of a crowd.
“I wanted to take another run for myself,” Dumont said Thursday at the Winter X Games, where he did an evening of commentary before heading to Vail for reconstructive surgery on the knee. “I wanted to go up there. I wanted to see the crowd. I wanted to hear those cheers I’ve enjoyed for such a long time. I’m not a very nostalgic guy but I just wanted to take it in for, who knows, maybe it was the last time.”
Injuries are as much a part of freestyle skiing as snow and Dumont, 27, has missed most of the last two years because of them.
Torn ligaments now in both knees. Spiral fracture of his ankle. Broken wrists. Broken hands.
Along with the efforts of late Canadian star Sarah Burke, it was Dumont’s good-spirited lobbying that gets wide credit for bringing halfpipe skiing onto the Olympic program. Dumont has seven X Games medals on the superpipe and would’ve been in the mix to add one from the Olympics to his collection.
But when the sport makes its debut, Dumont will be a spectator. He missed the first qualifier after falling and enduring a concussion. He was rounding back into form, however, and thought this might be his chance.
“I finally felt like I could win the Olympics,” he said.
Instead, he must watch them.
Doctors told him skiing on a knee without an ACL could cause irreparable harm if he twisted it the wrong way.
And yet, even though he viewed the run in Park City one for old-time’s sake, he kept quiet about the seriousness of his condition, thinking maybe, just maybe, he could still land a spot on the Olympic team.
“If I could go, it would’ve been worth me screwing up my knee for life just to go to the Olympics and perform on that stage,” Dumont said. “But it wasn’t possible. So, I just went and did what I could with what I had.”
He finished 12th that night, but those who were there will remember it as something much better than that.
Dumont said he’d love to come back to the X Games and put on a show in Aspen next year. If it works out, great. If not, he’ll always have that night in Park City.
“I wanted to do a halfpipe run and show people I’m fully committed to putting on a good show for everyone,” Dumont said. “And trying my hardest at what I’ve done for my whole life.”
“If I could go, it would’ve been worth me screwing up my knee for life just to go to the Olympics and perform on that stage. But it wasn’t possible. So, I just went and did what I could with what I had.”